Bend(3)

By: Kivrin Wilson


“More like five,” he says eventually. “The first year you were dating Fuckface, and we weren’t exactly friends back then.”

“Right.” Fuckface is my ex, Matt Nolan, who was Jay’s dorm roommate and best friend when we met. Matt, my ex-boyfriend from college who cheated on me and pulverized my heart, so yeah, he earned that nickname and then some.

But Matt has nothing to do with this conversation.

This conversation that I probably should end now while I still can. Before I say something that can’t be unsaid.

The thing is, I have a really hard time not speaking my mind. It’s a genetic condition that I inherited from my grandma. Jay never believed me when I used that excuse…until he actually met her.

Ask him. Now.

I swallow hard. And then I say, “So in those six or seven years or whatever, have you ever thought about having sex with me?”

The couch cushions bounce. He’s clicking furiously on his game controller, as if he lost his grip for a second. I don’t dare look at him, even though I’m dying to know how he’s taking it. Maybe I can just play it off. Idle curiosity, right? I mean, if friends can’t ask each other questions like that, what’s the point in being friends?

The pizza really isn’t sitting well. Shouldn’t have had pepperoni. I always regret pepperoni, and then I forget. What do you call that? Selective memory?

I sneak a sideways glance at him. Well, I try to be sneaky about it, but he catches me. Because he’s staring at me. He’s completely still, rigid even, and he’s looking at me with his mouth set in a thin line, a blank look in his eyes.

His pale eyes that sometimes look blue and other times look gray, but always sharp and direct—soul-burrowing eyes, gleaming with an intense intelligence. They’re a perfect reflection of his personality, those eyes, and meeting his gaze can be a lot like looking at the sun. Usually I can only do it for a second before I have to turn away.

“What the hell, Mia?” He’s looking back and forth between the TV and me. “Are you serious?”

Somehow we both manage to stay on course. Shaking my controller to get the speed boost while my character’s making a jump, I decide I might as well go all in. “Yeah, I am. Because the other thing the article said was that most men in the study were attracted to their female friends, and they thought the attraction was mutual. But most of the women were not attracted to their male friends, and they had no idea the men actually wanted to have sex with them.”

A peek at Jay shows him with his attention on the game, jaw clenched and slowly shaking his head. “I’m gonna change your Wi-Fi password.”

“Sure. Because that’s the only way I can get on the Internet. Could you just answer the question?”

“No.” He sounds sullen. And then he erupts. “Motherf—ahhh!”

He’s taken a turn badly and is falling off the track. My character zooms into first place, only seconds away from the finish line. I can’t help but throw him a triumphant grin as I win.

With a glare at me, he tosses his controller aside, gets up, and stomps off. The bathroom door slams shut, and I roll my eyes. Still, in all fairness, I can’t judge. I would probably have thrown an equally embarrassing tantrum if our roles had been reversed. We’re both sore losers.

Jay comes back out of the bathroom—a powder room for guests that lets me have a master bath attached to my bedroom, the main reason I chose this apartment complex. I like my private stuff private. The open floor plan, vaulted ceiling, and oversize kitchen with a small solid-surface island didn’t hurt, either.

As he goes to the kitchen, I pick up his controller and press the buttons to see the final game scores. My fingers feel kind of numb. Maybe we can just pretend this never happened? The conversation, that is. Beating him…that I reserve the right to gloat about for the foreseeable future.

I don’t want to forget about it, though. I’ve been itching to talk about it for a reason.

I hear my fridge smack shut, some rummaging in a drawer, and the clinking of metal on glass. Jay saunters back into the living room carrying another bottle of beer, and the leather creaks as he throws himself back down on the couch.

A knot of tension settles between my shoulders. “Was that the last one?”

He pauses with the beer halfway to his mouth and, looking sheepish, holds it out to me. “I’ll share it with you?”

“You’re so rude.” My tone doesn’t reflect it, but I’m genuinely annoyed. Why, though? It’s not like he hasn’t raided my refrigerator before. I don’t care, and he knows that.

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